Stroke is used to describe the effects of an interruption of the blood supply to a localised area of the brain. If part of the brain is deprived of blood, brain cells are damaged or die. This causes a number of different effects, depending on what part of the brain is affected and the amount of damage to brain tissue. Strokes can be mild or can be much more severe and result in death.
The key symptoms include:
A Transient Ischaemic Attack, sometimes called a mini-stroke, occurs when the brain's blood supply is briefly interrupted. Unlike a full stroke the symptoms last under 24 hours and the patient makes a full recovery. Mini-strokes should not be ignored, though, as they are often precursors of a full stroke.
There are two types of stroke: an ischaemic stroke when a blood clot blocks an artery serving the brain, disrupting blood supply; and a haemorrhagic stroke, when a blood vessel in or around the brain bursts.
Factors that increase the risk of stroke are:
Depending on the severity of the stroke, the person will either be admitted to hospital or receive treatment at home. The doctor may prescribe drugs designed to prevent further stroke and to treat any underlying conditions such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels. Many people who have had a stroke are prescribed aspirin because it helps make blood less sticky and less likely to form clots.